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In his first act after taking charge as Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Kamal Nath signed off on a massive farm loan waiver promised by the Congress during its poll campaign. A loan waiver for debt-hit farmers headlined Congress’ election promises in the three heartland states it took from the BJP, including Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
In its election manifesto, the Congress had also promised a social security pension for farmers, who had held massive protests in the state last year, and a rebate in the registration fee of land documents, besides financial help of Rs. 51,000 for the marriage of daughters of small cultivators.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had promised a farm loan waiver within 10 days of his party coming to power in the state, where it ended the 15-year-long BJP rule.
The party has returned to power in MP after 15 years and rural distress over falling prices was among the main issues in the campaign with Congress president Rahul Gandhi promising to write off loans within 10 days of forming the government. Gandhi had even said that the Congress chief minister who fails to do so will be removed.
Addressing reporters at the state secretariat after taking charge as new chief minister, Nath said, “After taking oath, I have cleared the first file related to writing off loans up to Rs two lakh.”
After Nath signed the relevant file, Rajesh Rajora, Principal Secretary, Farmers’ Welfare and Agriculture Development Department, issued an order in this regard.
“The Madhya Pradesh government has taken a decision to write off short-term crop loan of eligible farmers up to the limit of Rs two lakh, as on March 31, 2018, from nationalised and cooperative banks,” the order stated.
The loan waiver in Madhya Pradesh is expected to cost the state exchequer around Rs 35,000-Rs 38,000 crore and benefit close to 34 lakh farmers. The Congress announced that farmers who had taken short-term loans up to Rs 2 lakh before March 3, 2018, will benefit from the loan waiver.
Madhya Pradesh faces a debt of at least Rs. 1.6 lakh crore, according to official records. But the actual figures could be well over Rs. 1.87 lakh crore.